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The Effect of Work and Clothing on the Maintainance of the Body Temperature in Water

W. R. Keatinge, 1961
Medical Research Council, Department of Experimental Medicine, University of Cambridge
Quarterly Journal of Experimental Physiology and Cognate Medical Sciences 46.1 pp 69-82


Keywords: physiology, body temperature, clothes in water

Twelve young naval ratings were repeatedly immersed in water at temperatures between 5 and 37.8°C. Their temperatures, both rectal and oeligsophageal when measured, fell more rapidly when they worked than when they stayed still in water at 5 or 15°C. This was so whether the men worked as hard as possible or at a slower rate, whether they wore clothes or not, and whether or not the water (at 15°C.) was stirred when they were still. The fattest man suffered relatively small falls in rectal temperature at both 5 and 15°C. whether he worked or was still. Work had no significant effect on the rectal temperatures of unclothed men in water at 25°C. and caused a rise in water at 35°C.

Work had no important effect on the falls in surface or mean temperature during 20-minunte immersions at 5 and 15°C. when the men were unclothed and the water (in the still experiments) was stirred, but it increased the falls in mean temperature when the immersions lasted 40 minutes and increased both when the men were clothed.

Clothing substantially reduced the men's falls in both surface and deep temperature, particularly in water at 5°C. This effect was prolonged when the men were still, but when they worked it was relatively slight after the first few minutes.

This work was supported by the Survival-at-Sea Sub-Committee of the Royal Naval Personnel Research Committee, in particular by its Chairman, Professor R. A. McCance and Secretary, Mr. F. E. Smith. Surgeon-Captain F. P. Ellis arranged for naval volunteers to be made available as subjects. Lieutenant H. Burton carried out the daily administration connected with the subjects and Mr. R. Luff and S.B.A. T. R. Simmonds gave technical assistance.

The active co-operation of the subjects played a large part in the success of the experiments, particularly those at the lower water temperatures.

Submitted on July 20, 1960

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